Updated: Jun 7
Richmond BC is on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish, Kwantlen, Kwikwetlem (kʷikʷəƛ̓əm), Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) d sc̓əwaθən məsteyəxʷ (Tsawwassen) First Nations, of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ (hun-ki-meen-um) language group. I acknowledge with the utmost respect and gratitude.
This horrific tragedy brings Canada to a turning point. Ongoing environmental racism, systemic racism in our institutions, and colonial practices that have had a legacy, and continue to oppress Indigenous peoples and communities in our city and are forms of structural violence. A horrific genocide that must be addressed and actioned.
When the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced that they had found the remains of 215 children on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School it is devastating news, enraged many people and now 100 more graves of children have been found in Manitoba. This list will continue to grow.
I recognize my own privilege at white settler, and I commit to challenge, dismantle and work towards breaking down barriers that continue to harm Indigenous communities. The work as an ally requires social action, humility, learning, unlearning and a support network of people that also want change. I will make many mistakes along the way, but I am here to learn.
As settler I was not taught about Canada’s colonial history, and it was only last year when I took my first Indigenous Women’s class at Langara was when I read through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report and the Indian Act. Indigenous Peoples on Turtle Island have been subjected to ongoing genocides, broken promises from our failed governments. As settlers on this stolen land, by remaining silent we are complicit in this ongoing violence and genocide against Indigenous people. The Canadian government reported that 6,000 children died in residential schools, though survivors have always known the truth that so many more children never came home. The Canadian public is now hearing the truth.
We are grass roots activist group at Coming Together Richmond. We are committed to stand with Indigenous communities to witness, recognize our own responsibility as settlers on stolen land and I ask all of us to commit to take on all calls to action now, and in the future. This begins within our own city.
Please use the privilege and platform to you may have to ask the Mayor to include Land acknowledgement as it a step in the right direction for decolonization, update the Cultural Harmony Plan and on the City of Richmond’s website. To commit to move forward on the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action for cities.
This is an informal event, so please if you want to speak go ahead and most importantly make space for and centre Indigenous voices.
This ongoing genocide is a national tragedy. The depth of the trauma and retraumatization is insurmountable. The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide 24/7 support to residential school survivors and others who are affected. Call 1 (866) 925-4419.